DAC/Headphone Amp For Sennheiser 650's


I could use some input here. A good friend who is also a musician has bought a pair of Sennheiser 650's and would like a DAC/Headphone amp to partner with. He likes a very warm and musical sound--not a detail freak but rather likes instruments and voices to sound very natural. Budget is under $1K new but would like to pick something up for $500 on the used market if possible.

Hi Dodgealum

In the sub $500 category I say look at the Grant Fidelity DAC-11 for your 650s. I enjoyed my Sennheiser headphones with Grant Fidelity DAC-09 with a Western Electric 396A tube in place of the stock one.

From other people I've spoke too they liked pairing the Schiit Bifrost DAC and the Schiit Valhalla headphone amp with their Sennheisers. That combo new is under $1K. In the used market you can grab Schiit Audio gear for a lot cheaper.
I have heard that the 650s and the 600s sound alike. For my 600s I have tried several different headphone amps and I think tube amps sound the best. I am using a Bottlehead Crack and and Antique Sound Lab. I don't know what is on the market these days but recommend you go for a tubed headphone amp.
Are there any sub-$1K tube HP amps that are dead quiet - lacking any stand-alone hiss/hum (no input cables inserted)? I, too, have 650's, and AKG 702's.

Thanks in advance,
Hi Metro04

I have AKG 701's also and I enjoyed them with the Schiit Audio Valhalla tube headphone amp.

One budget tube headphone amp that I think you should proceed with caution with are the Indeed Headphone amps that use a single 12AU7 type tube. In my work set-up where a laptop is the main source they are a bit noisy no matter tube I've used. It may just be the set-up at work but still it isn't dead quiet.
Hi Jedinite24, I've looked at Schiit's equipment numerous times over and over, read lots of reviews, really like the specs, cosmetics and pricing, but there's no posted specification for the various model's SN ratios, although, I've never contacted Schiit for that info, either.

Looked at, and like, Woo's sub-$1K tube offerings as well, plus a dozen other manufacture's tube models. I seemingly just keep leaning towards SS/DAC combos with their better specs and convenience. The combo option is enticing, though I'm also entertaining separates except for having to research/sample/incur additional $$$ for interconnect cables. I'd sure like to audition some dead-quiet tube amps in this price range before making a choice either way.

Thanks for the input regarding single-tube designs. Never thought any of the models I've seen could be powerful enough to effectively drive anything but in-ear types, and just assumed they'd be too noisy for my liking.

In the OP's price range for SS DAC/Amps, some of the best selling mfrs are the regarded Burson Audio, CEntrance, Benchmark and Headroom, etc. There's a few Asian mfrs/models that get international mag/user acclaims and can be found/bought via EBay (or direct) the likes of Matrix, Styleaudio and Audio-GD, amongst others.

Anyone else have recommendations for high S/N tube amps?